Eight weeks ago, the Vikings were undefeated and ranked No. 1 in DVOA. Now they're 6-6 and probably done. What went wrong?
09 Aug 2010
by Bill Barnwell
We conclude the quarterbacks portion of this season's Wisdom of Crowds feature with a look at four more quarterbacks. (Not five? Blame the dentist.) It's occurred to me this weekend that we probably should have gone with running backs this week, since there's only five more weeks left before the season starts, but we'll just cut wide receivers down to two weeks and there won't be any tight end projections this year.
For an explanation of the concept, check out the initial article from last year. In short, I ask my Twitter followers to project three statistics for a given player every weekday, assuming that the player participates in the full 16-game season without an injury that keeps him out of action. Check out previous entries in this year's series:
Monday: Joe Flacco
Average: 3,718 passing yards, 24 TD, 13 INT
Maximum: 4,200 passing yards, 32 TD, 10 INT
Minimum: 3,100 passing yards, 17 TD, 18 INT
This would be a very slight uptick from Flacco's 2009 season, when he threw for 3,613 yards, with 21 touchdowns and 12 picks. Adding Anquan Boldin to the mix obviously gives him a talented (if injury-prone) option, one that should be able to counteract the age-related regression of Derrick Mason and the continued existence of Mark Clayton.
It's a totally reasonable projection that would fit right in line with Flacco's career progression. The only thing I can really say is that the Ravens were 9-7 last year; if they do take the expected leap forward in win-loss record that we are projecting, Flacco should throw fewer than the 499 attempts of a year ago, and that would lead to a decline in his raw numbers.
Tuesday: Tarvaris Jackson
Average: 2,952 passing yards, 18 TD, 16 INT
Maximum: 3,587 passing yards, 25 TD, 7 INT
Minimum: 2,300 passing yards, 12 TD, 23 INT
I ran this the day that Brett Favre sorta-announced his latest retirement; it got a really high percentage of people suggesting that Jackson wasn't going to play 16 games. Of course, that's not what we're measuring here. This is a remarkably low projection for Jackson; consider that the minimum projection, 2,300 yards, would be more than 100 yards below the worst 16-game total of the past 20 years (Dave Brown of the Giants in 1996).
Jackson's thrown what amounts to a full season of passes -- 545 -- over his four years as a pro. His numbers over that time frame: 3,643 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions. Certainly, the Vikings don't lack for options for Jackson to throw to. He'll never be an accurate quarterback, but I would be shocked if Jackson started 16 games and didn't throw for 3,000 yards.
Thursday: Matt Ryan
Average: 3,597 passing yards, 25 TD, 13 INT
Maximum: 4,100 passing yards, 30 TD, 9 INT
Minimum: 2,750 passing yads, 20 TD, 18 INT
Pro-rated to a 16-game season, Matt Ryan's first two seasons have yielded a seasonal line of 3,390 passing yards, 20 TD, and 13 INT. He had a touchdown spike last year, with 22 TD in 14 games after just 16 in 16 games as a rookie, but the return of Michael Turner -- and the absence of Jason Snelling, who was terrible near the goal line -- should push some touchdowns towards the running game.
What I find interesting is that Ryan's numbers suggested by Wisdom of Crowds are below Flacco's; that's also backed up by their respective Average Draft Position, with Flacco at 83 and Ryan at 92. KUBIAK has Ryan well ahead of Flacco, and I'm inclined to agree.
Friday: Drew Brees
Average: 4,518 passing yards, 33 TD, 13 INT
Maximum: 4,920 passing yards, 42 TD, 8 INT
Minimum: 4,040 passing yards, 29 TD, 19 INT
The average line is roughly similar to Brees's 16-game line over his Saints career: 4,576 passing yards, 31 TD, 14 INT. I suspect that the touchdown projection is a little high across the board. Brees has led the league in each of the past two seasons with 34 touchdowns. It depends on whether you expect the league's passing touchdown totals to rise or not, I suppose. KUBIAK has Brees with 30 passing touchdowns, which I can see the arguments for and against.
One of the issues at play here again is win-loss record; Brees sat out the final game of the season last year, which could have pushed him up to 36 or 37 touchdowns. Because the Saints went 13-2 in his starts, Brees "only" threw the ball 514 times, down 130 passes from his average over the previous two years. More passes should yield more touchdowns, but Brees also threw touchdowns on 6.6 percent of his passes a year ago, a figure that is unlikely to recur.
Perhaps a better question: Can anyone reliably predict that someone will throw for 34 touchdowns versus 30? I don't know the answer to that question.
We'll start today at @FO_BBarnwell with running backs, including some of the backs that KUBIAK has developed interesting attitudes towards. That means you, Mr. Mendenhall.
2 comments, Last at 10 Aug 2010, 2:05pm by zachary